Keeping Christ in Xmas

I have been using my own special shorthand since Middle School. I sign emails as well as letters with just an initial rather than my name. In Seminary, the volume of note-taking became massive and I developed a theological shorthand. Xn = Christian, X = Christ, and Xty = Christianity. God = a Greek theta (which I cannot display on my blog). The list of theological abbreviations grew quite large by the time I completed two degrees.

In the original language of the New Testament, Christ starts with the letter Chi which looks like our X. Early Christians used the symbol of a fish to identify one another. Why a fish? Fish in Greek is Ichthus, which makes a nifty acronym for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” (Iesous Christos, Theou Uios, Soter)

So, I have always written Christmas as Xmas. I tried to shorten it to MC but people kept asking me about a rapper from long ago. Therefore, Merry Xmas still prevails.

This seemingly innocent abbreviation has gotten some really bad press over the years. Folks with too much time (and so-called spirituality) have sounded off on the practice repeatedly. It has always been a bit amusing to me how and why people get so worked up over the practice. Especially given the fact that I had never been the target of such a tirade. Until now that is.

In an online text message with a social networking site that shall remain nameless, I have made an enemy for life. I have left Christ out of Xmas. I should be flogged, disbarred, and ex-communicated. I should immediately return my Seminary degrees and forfeit my ordination papers. Bad preacher. I have left Christ out of Christmas by using Xmas.

Can we be honest for just a second? I have difficulty when someone decries my uses of Xmas while maxing out their credit cards at Christmas. When they wrap their house in lights, erect a tree, sing about the season, bake cookies, have a feast, entertain the children, go on a hayride, skip work and generally have a social orgy while ignoring the birth of Jesus, I get more than a bit steamed.

While I have indeed left Christ out of Xmas linguistically, our family never omits the far more important aspect of Christmas. Christmas is not, “all about the children.” It is more than “Season’s Greetings” we should be discussing. Christmas is not about Santa, Frosty or even Rudolf. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus so that He may deliver us from sin. Increasingly, the festivities of the holidays mask and even displace the true meaning of Christmas. Families are so busy buying more than they can afford for their children, they forget to teach the essential truths of the Christmas Story.

So in our family, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We give gifts to Kingdom causes that are sacrificial and meaningful. We have reduced our own gift giving year after year so that the true meaning of Christmas would not be muffled.

Merry Xmas,

Dr.B

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22 replies
  1. Scott McQueen
    Scott McQueen says:

    God forbid, I have made the same mistake and offended others. But somehow I know niether you nor I would intentionally leave Christ out of anything. Not that my opinion matters; I don’t think jesus would accuse you either (Uh Oh! I forgot to capitalize Jesus). God Bless you and Merry Christmas my brother! Don’t let anything spoil your Joy!

  2. George Proferes
    George Proferes says:

    The Real meaning of Christmas: Dec 25th is a “pagan” holiday to offer worship to a sun god . We all celebrate the 25th because of the catholic church. That’s fine. There needs to be a date set aside to celebrate the Birthday of Our King. It is not said anywhere in the Bible that Jesus was born on this date or if He were born in the spring that so many scholars believe. Up to the 60’s and 70’s, We THE PEOPLE were allowed to show the World that We celebrated Christ’s Birthday through Our offerings and tithing of Joy. Christmas caroling and Nativity scene’s proudly displayed in front of Our Church’s and Home’s. Now a days its more about the almighty dollar. How many sales in major stores that can be attributed to this holiday. Many of Our Children would rather play those evil video games and watch R rated TV on our cable networks than to watch the Birth of Jesus. Many still believe that santa is the main theme to Christmas. God forbid that people would say something derogatory about Mohammad or the gods of islam. We are supposed to accept the “steam-rolling” approach to end the original and true theme of Christmas. If Christians from around the World cannot see this “invisible” battle on Christmas, Maybe they need some extra “soul” searching. Before too long, Christmas will be replaced with happy holiday. We have been silent long enough. Are we to become “complacent” and let the left or whomever replace the very existence of Our Savior. I’ve heard people say that our future president is the messiah or savior. I will say and confess till my last breath that JESUS is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night. Selah

  3. George
    George says:

    I personally do not normally use Xmas, but have had to explain the origin of Xmas many times as I hear Clergy and lay people argue about leaving Christ out. I totally agree with what you are saying. People need to not react until they have taken the time to be educated–but don’t we all tend to react to soon at times. Anyway, thanks for writing this–I may have to send people links from time to time.

    Merry Xmas
    George

  4. bill
    bill says:

    I totally agree with your post Dr. B! We (the collective church) seem to always be fighting the wrong fights. We argue and bicker over the most trivial of things and wonder why we’re becoming more marginalized in society. This is something that has been on my mind more and more lately. Thanks for posting.

  5. Larry
    Larry says:

    Bruce,

    I have to admit, I do not like the way most people use Xmas. I have the feeling most of them do so to reduce it’s meaning. I do not get that same feeling from you. Thanks for writing this article and explaining it in good detail.

    Merry Xmas to you and yours.

  6. JudgeRight
    JudgeRight says:

    This is where the proper use of Jesus’ lesson in John 7:1 should be applied. Judge not lest you be judged, for in the measure you use to judge, so shall you be judged.

    The X condemners are judging based on their own ignorance. Since X literally stands for the word ‘Christ.’ I’m going to be using this from now on to get that message out to the judgmental.

    I’ve argued long and hard, because this ‘Do not judge’ verse has been so abused by the secular community to condemn Christians for using their judgment, but this is the proper application of the verse.

  7. Dan Yoakum
    Dan Yoakum says:

    Gasp!! No Santa??? :-p
    My wife made me stop using Xmas a long time ago. She said I was being lazy (which very well may be true) but NOW I can go back with Proof that it’s ok to use Xmas.
    Don’t worry Pastor, I’ll protect your name unto death. Or until she starts yanking fingernails or brings out the waterboard. LOL

  8. Tom Usher
    Tom Usher says:

    Hello Bruce and All,

    Xmas. No problem! This whole thing is about pagans taking back their season as they see it while others calling themselves Christians (Xians) forget how, in fact, the pagan symbols and time were definitely co-opted by the pope to gain converts. Of course, the story of Jesus certainly does fit with some of the symbolism such as the daylight (symbolic of truth) getting longer now in the Northern hemisphere. Now the whole argument is really just a contest of egos. Your gifts to Kingdom causes is exactly right. Bless you for putting that on your blog for all to see.

    Long before the department stores started in, the gift giving tradition was exactly gifts to Kingdom causes. The better-off children were taught to give to the poor, not receive even more material goods that they don’t even need.

    Bless you and yours,

    MC

    Tom

  9. Mik
    Mik says:

    Θ
    Merry Xmas, great post.

    In WordPress visual editor you can insert symbols and you should find all the symbols you need to insert into posts.

  10. Tara
    Tara says:

    I agree. It’s the meaning that YOU assign to a holiday (or anything else) that defines its real value in your sphere. I wish people of all faiths would step back and listen to themselves when they go on ‘holier than thou’ tirades about things as simple as “Xmas.” I am not Christian but find that this happens in almost every spiritual walk of life, and it is sad. I hope you had an excellent holiday despite this silliness!

  11. AndyC
    AndyC says:

    I try to use Christmas instead of Xmas myself. But I have learned that a greater part of grace is focusing on the feelings of what people say instead of the form.

    As long as your heart is true to the meaning of Christmas, why not let “X” mark the spot?

  12. WebbieGurl
    WebbieGurl says:

    Indeed Christmas is an adopted pagan practice but who cares? The though is there, we remember Jesus birth. But the sadder of these realities? It has become a commercial and business galore for the world forgetting the real meaning. Sad..

  13. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    George Proferes states: There needs to be a date set aside to celebrate the Birthday of Our King.

    I state: Says who? If there is any reference in Scripture commanding us to do so, I’d certainly like to know it. What Scripture DOES state is that we are to remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and ultimately the victory on our behalf over sin and death.

    I have not been able to find any Scripture saying that ANY day should be celebrated for His birth. Oh, I know it’s cool, virgin birth and all, but isn’t the just of it that there was a gift given, one that ultimately could not be replayed because of its magnitude, and in our feeble efforts to be Christ like we should be giving to those who cannot possibly return/exchange this gift? Instead, we exchange $ amounts in Jesus’ name.

    Silly, no?

    ~Sarah

  14. Tomas
    Tomas says:

    Thank you. It was the real healing to read your post that reminds the true meaning of Christmas. Though the Christmas Fireworks are over already yet I am reading your post and feel myself so happy for my wish to send to you the best wishes. Christmas gave a new meaning to all our activities and that holiday never will end – God will never leave us alone.
    The Christmas tree is over already, yet it is never late to thank for we still have time to awake and to know that Jesus will never shift from our cry

  15. jenni
    jenni says:

    You know, to each their own. I was raised in a home that Xmas was showing disrespect toward the true meaning of Christmas, which is Christ. I have also instilled this belief and will continue to instill it in my childrens lives. I have unfortunately been in a hurry in the past and when I was younger and have wished individuals, or have written merry xmas to people, but I still and will always feel like it’s disrespectful and sloppy. So is being “politically correct”. My children are 2 years old and 11 months old, and I do read them the christmas story, and adopt families to give christmas to as well to show them that it’s not about getting, It’s about giving and the precious gift that God gave to us soo many years ago. But, your children are only young for so long, and yes, Santa Claus is coming to my house this year, and Rudolph and 8 other reindeer are parking their sled on my roof. So, even though we may not see eye to eye, I agree with you in some aspects. Merry Christmas Dr. Bruce, and have a happy New Year!

  16. A.Marie
    A.Marie says:

    Hi there! I found your blog while I was on Entrecard, and your post intrigued me. It has always annoyed me when people, especially Christians, signed their letters, cards, etc., with Merry Xmas. I felt that they were degrading the true meaning. But, after reading your post and many of the comments, I feel that I was just being judgmentall, which is not what a Christian should do!!

    I loved Kevin Tracy’s comment….x = Christ. That is awesome! 🙂

  17. kimbery
    kimbery says:

    before you pointed out your ‘blog’ i had not taken the time to read it. you have legit statements that you believe in but that’s why we are all different. i usually associate people who are either too lazy or non christian to write xmas. i have so much running through my little brain after reading your thoughts but all i will say is, i wouldn’t consider you my enemy for life, i do wish Gods blessings on you and your beautiful family and most of all have a Merry Christmas.

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